How to Choose the Right Sunscreen: Ingredients and SPF Explained

How to Choose the Right Sunscreen: Ingredients and SPF Explained

June 26, 2024

6 min read

One in three Americans gets a sunburn every year, with more than 33,000 requiring a visit to the emergency room. More than 1 million people are also living with melanoma in the United States, which is a result of UV exposure. At Metropolitan Skin Clinic, we believe skin and health safety can be achieved by taking the proper security steps.

Sunblock is a vital part of that protection. Using specific ingredients, it either repels or absorbs the UV rays so that they can no longer cause damage. In this blog, you’ll learn more about sunscreen and its importance so that you can make the right choice.

Types of Sunblock

Regardless of its formula, sunscreen is a product applied to the skin that creates a protective barrier against UV rays. The topical treatments come in two formulas: 

  • Chemical Sunscreen

Chemical sunscreen works by absorbing the UV rays and then transforming them into heat, which is then processed and released by the body. Since it does not leave a “film” over the skin, it is a good choice for those who want to wear makeup. The most common ingredients are octisalate, avobenzone, homosalate, oxybenzone, octocrylene, and octinoxate, blended into a lightweight formula. It takes 15 to 30 minutes to become effective but can be potentially irritating for those with sensitive skin.

  • Mineral Sunscreen

Those looking for a gentle yet effective type of sunblock should consider mineral sunblock. Usually made from titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, it creates a protective layer that reflects the sun away from the skin. Unlike chemical sunscreen, it works immediately upon application and is safe for sensitive skin. While it can leave a “coat,” it is not problematic if you don’t wear much makeup or get a tinted formula.

Things to Look for When Getting Sunblock

Aside from the formula, there are other factors to consider when making your choice, including: 

1. Broad Spectrum

UV rays come in different forms: UVA and UVB. UVB rays are often the most common cause of skin cancer, leading to mutations to the skin on the surface. On the other hand, UVA rays go deeper inside the skin and damage the collagen fibers. This can trigger premature aging of the skin along with excess pigmentation. 

Look for formulas that have “broad-spectrum” mentioned in their description. This means they offer ultimate protection against UVA and UVB rays.

2. SPF

The SPF (solar protection factor) should tell you how well that formula can protect against UVB rays. The most common levels are the following:

  • SPF15: Effective for minimal sun exposure and during the cold season, blocking out 93 percent of UVB rays.
  • SPF30: Good for spring and prolonged outdoor activities, blocking out 97 percent of UVB rays.
  • SPF50: Works best for fair-skin individuals and extended times outside during summer, blocking out 98 percent of UVB rays.

For the summer season, when the UV rays are strongest, we recommend you choose an SPF 40 formula or higher.

3. Water Resistance

Water resistance is also important to choose in sunblock, and not just if you have plans of going for a swim. Summer can make you sweaty, so if the rising temperatures are causing your body to drench your clothes, you should look for water resistance. While you should still reapply it throughout the day, a good sunscreen should protect you for 40 to 80 minutes.

Get Your Sun Protection Advice from Metropolitan!

Sunscreen is important for maintaining the skin’s health while keeping signs of aging at bay. Choosing the right sunblock is essential, as various formulas can have different courses of action. Our professionals at Metropolitan can offer you all the tools necessary to protect you from the sun, offering coverage against all types of UV rays. For more advice on how to protect your skin, feel free to browse through our Instagram!


For more information about choosing the best sunscreen, you can contact Metropolitan Skin Clinic at 952-288-2230. We can assist you with selecting the proper sunblock to receive the ultimate protection from damaging UV rays. To find out more, we invite you to visit our website or use our portal to schedule an appointment!

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